In December 2019 and January 2020, there were many sermons themed as “2020 vision.” It seems we were all short-sighted — only hindsight is 2020! How many of us had a year which went precisely according to plan?
For a summary of the second half of the past year here in Kenya (and pictures!), please read our December 2020 update (pdf).
Last month (in February), I (Joshua) was able to spend a week in Oletukat, teaching my History of Christian Mission course at a missionary training school founded and run by our Maasai friend and colleague, James ole Sinkua. Last year, we all visited Oletukat as a family as Ruth and I had a planning and curriculum development meeting with James (for more, see our November newsletter).
As usual, when I teach I have just as much of a learning opportunity as my students. Besides learning new Maa vocabulary, my students taught me this wonderful song, Irriwayioki ! (or “Send me!”). In the Maa Bible, in Isaiah 6:8, the prophet answers God’s call: “Irriwayioki!Send me!” While this hymn has innumerable verses, I learned five of them plus the chorus.
The first verse is especially powerful: Send me to our Maasai people, Send me even to the Agĩkũyũ … . The first phrase is a call to evangelize and disciple one’s neighbors, kinfolk, and fellow countrymen. But the second phrase asks God to send the singer to the Kikuyu! This is significant because traditionally the Kikuyu and the Maasai are tribal rivals.
(Properly speaking, Agĩkũyũ is the name of the people and Gĩkũyũ is the name of the language. In Swahili, Kikuyu is the name of the Gĩkũyũ language spoken by the Agĩkũyũ. From this Swahili usage, “Kikuyu” is commonly used in English to refer to the Gĩkũyũ language and “the Kikuyu” is used to refer to the Agĩkũyũ people.)
While the two tribes sometimes intermarry, often the Maasai and the Agĩkũyũ are about as affectionate toward each other as are supporters of rival political factions in America. This song is a radical invitation, asking God to send us that we might join God in God’s mission in the world — not only to our friends but also even to our enemies.
Give it a listen, and scroll down for the lyrics and translation:
To those of you who saw our “Sing or Dance?” post from last month (20 February), accept my apologies for only having an audio file instead of a video file.
This recording has six verses. Here is the Maa translation, with English translation, of five of the verses plus the chorus. (When my students sang it for me to record, they added what is the fifth verse here, and for the life of me there are a couple of words that I just can’t hear. I didn’t have a chance to ask them to transcribe that verse for me. When I figure out that verse, I’ll edit this post.)
We arrived back in Kenya at the end of April and began to get settled the beginning of May. We’ve overcome some unexpected challenges in re-acquiring our vehicle (which we’ve now paid for twice) and applying for new work permits. We’ve dived into to language learning (as we’re needing to add Swahili to our Maa and Samburu). We’ve been delighted to host guests — some of the Hausers, our good friends who serve as missionaries in Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, and the Sapps, representing our support partner Crossroads Christian Church. We’ve also hosted a number of our Maasai friends and co-workers, working together on curriculum development and planning meetings for CCBTI and DTI.
More than anything else, we’ve been struck by the warmth, or even intensity, of the homecoming welcome that has been extended to us these first two months of our fourth term. To read more (and for pictures), read ourJune newsletter. (Note that the pdf is optimized for viewing online; if you would like a higher resolution copy for printing, just ask!)
We also posted a small photo album from last month. If you missed it, check out ourMay 2019 photos.
Francis Yenko and Joshua work on editing Joshua’s next Maa language book.
On 30 November we reported the beginning of our CCBTI graduation season in Maasai Land, as the first cohort of pastors from Kajiado County celebrated completion of the CCBTI program. This past weekend saw the graduations of the smaller cohort from Narok County at CCC’s training center in Ewaso Ng’iro, on 8 December.
Join us in celebrating with Peter Otuma Nanteya, Walton Tumate Nkowua, Peter Lerionka Pion, Wilson Ntinana Kuyoni, Maina ole Salenoi, Peter Talata Parkesui, and their congregations! Ntinga Sam Tome (on the right in the first picture) attended both graduations.
Sometimes you plant carrots. In two to four months, you get a harvest. Sometimes you plant avocado trees. Tend it diligently, and you’ll start to get repeated harvests each year — but not right away. There will be a few years with nothing to show for your labors. But slow, steady growth will be occurring nonetheless.
Ministry & discipleship is often more like growing trees than growing carrots. Results don’t always come overnight. Patience is required. Some of you may remember that we returned from our first home assignment for our second term in 2010 to discover that the Maasai Discipleship Training School had not had any sessions while we in the States. It had a five year drought before we were able to help Francis Yenko and the CCC relaunch it in 2014 at a new campus, during our third term. Then in 2016 the newly rechristened Discipleship Training Institute (DTI) went mobile, reaching new areas of Maasai land. Since we began in 2010 to work to reestablish this ministry, the harvest has been tremendous. But we had to wait longer than for carrots. .
There was a similar story of a slow wait and long work for the establishment of and harvest from the Community Christian Bible Training Institute (CCBTI). First the Turkana Bible Training Institute (TBTI) was transformed into the initial campus of CCBTI. Then in 2016 we were able to help the Community Christian Churches (CCC) to successfully establish two branch campuses of CCBTI in Maasai Land. This year sees the first graduations of the Maasai branches of CCBTI. Today, 30 November 2018, believers gathered from miles around in Ng’atataek in Kajiado County to celebrate the CCBTI graduation of a group of Kenyan and Tanzania Maasai pastors. The CCBTI graduation for the Ewaso Ng’iro campus is scheduled for 8 December 2018.
Here are some pictures from today’s graduation in Ng’atataek. Those who are kneeling are the graduating pastor-students being ordained. The washing of feet was a public demonstration of the nature of servant leadership. As we are still abroad in America, Ntinga Sam Tome, our colleague and the administrator of the two Maasai CCBTI campuses, sent us these pictures.
EDIT (28 January 2019): I just realized that I forgot to include the names of the ten graduates. They are: Joshua Papa Kimeshwa, Joshua Sinkira Lekoke, Nchoke Kakeu Naipenyu, Jackson Moikan Laisa, Moses Ntete Laisa, Leimaduk ole Solonka, Philipo Naisango koole, Jackson Kapaito Mayiasek, Noah Ikayo Nkoye, and Musanka Sakaya Korema.
Successes and failures and ongoing challenges. During our first eleven years in Kenya, we’ve seen our share in each of these categories. In this update, we want to share with you some of our key successes from our third term (2014-2017) as we continue to work with our support partners in the work of expanding Christ’s Kingdom in Kenya.
Most of you know that our Eating the Word of God curriculum has been published in three languages:
• Enkinosata Ororei le Nkai (in Maa)
• Kujilisha kwa Neno La Mungu (in KiSwahili)
• Akinyam Akiroit a Akuj (in NgaTurkana)
(Maa, the language of the Maasai, is spoken in Kenya and Tanzania. KiSwahili is the primary second language of most Kenyans and Tanzanians, and is spoken across East Africa. NgaTurkana is the language of the Turkana people, who live primarily in Kenya’s northwest, between Lake Turkana and Uganda.)
Just to remind you, this is the textbook for the Eating the Word of God course of the Community Christian Bible Training Institute (CCBTI; there are three branch campuses). The highfalutin academic title would be “Equipping Congregations for Biblical Understanding,” but we keep it simple. The books are also used for teaching grass-roots level seminars.
Today some missionaries to theTongainZambia(in Southern Africa) have asked if they can adapt our materials for the Tonga churches. (We said “yes,” of course.)
We may be in America, but we continue to be engaged with our ministry in Kenya, mostly behind the scenes. The two CCBTI branch campuses in Maasai Land are still going well. Last month (June 2018), Sam Ntinga Tome was in Ewaso Ng’iro to teach Life of Christ and Gospel of Mark. Here are a couple of pictures.